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Tips for Sharing the Costs of Co-Parenting

Posted on in Child Custody

coparenting, child custody, Naperville family law attorneysCo-parenting is often much easier said than done. Even the most amicable of divorced couples armed with a well laid out parenting plan face changes, challenges, and frustrations. Children are unpredictable. As they grow up, their needs can change drastically. One year, a child may be interested in after-school piano lessons, only to develop an interest in horseback riding a year later. With the unpredictability of children comes the burden of sharing costs as co-parents. Where once you and your spouse likely shared finances, and worked together towards providing a great future for yourselves and your children, you are both now on your own, and probably in differing financial situations. Splitting the cost of raising children is often challenging, especially if you and your spouse disagree on how you each spend money on your children. How can co-parents ensure they are successfully splitting the costs of raising their children?

In reality, experts say there is no correct answer. “Every case is different, every individual different, every couple is different,” says one expert. “There’s really no one answer.” Instead of looking for a perfect solution, co-parents most importantly need to be flexible, prepared for change, and willing to compromise. While we can not prepare ourselves for the unknown future costs of raising our children, there are a few strategies experts say are worth keeping in mind while moving forward as a co-parent.

Communication Is Key

Communication is extremely important for co-parents. To truly do a good job raising children, co-parents need to work together as a team. Good communication means both parents will be well-informed on the happenings in their child’s life, allowing for better parenting on both sides. Communication is especially important for splitting parenting costs. If you or your ex would like to purchase something extra for your child, and the other disagrees, talk about it. Too often one co-parent will sneak behind the other’s back, or act passive-aggressively, and this is likely to backfire. Instead, have an open conversation with your ex. You both can come to an agreement while avoiding negativity. “Communication and participation are key,” says one family law expert. “Parents are more likely to agree to divide expenses if the activity is discussed with them beforehand and the parent feels like he or she is part of the process.”

Communication does not come easy, and post-divorce parents should not expect to see eye to eye all of the time. Your ex may be stubborn and difficult to work with--one of the reasons that may have lead to your divorce in the first place--but giving up is not an option. Instead, mediation can be a great alternative for those needing some extra support. If communicating with your ex alone is too difficult, or only leads to frustration, having the help of a mediator can make a major difference. Mediators are unbiased, so both you and your ex will feel heard and validated, and you will both be helped towards reaching an amicable decision.

Come Up With a Fair System

In most cases, your divorce agreement will detail how expenses are to be divided between you and your ex. This is often based on income, meaning that a parent who earns more is likely to be paying more towards their child. Your agreement probably covered health care costs, food, housing, and other essentials, but how to pay for fun extras and activities may not be detailed. Experts suggest coming up with a system that seems reasonable to both co-parents. In most cases, the system ends up being that whenever a parent feels strongly about an activity, item, or other purchase for their child, they will foot the bill. Then, when your ex wants to spend money on your child on extra purchases, they can pay for it themselves. If you both agree on an extra purchase for your child, like paying for swim lessons or dance classes, split the costs evenly.

This system tends to keep things fair between co-parents, but experts remind co-parents not to worry too much about being perfectly even. If your ex owes you a trivial amount, somewhere less that $20, your best option may be to simply let it go. Keeping things positive between you and your ex is well worth losing a few dollars, and will go a long ways towards ensuring your child’s happiness.

Be Careful When Discussing Money With Your Children

Separating from your spouse is a major decision that impacts you, your spouse, and your children. Throughout the whole ordeal, your children should be the most important factor, so dragging them into your financial woes with your ex is never a good idea. “The whole, ‘I can not afford to take you to Busch Gardens because I have to pay mommy child support’ is unacceptable,” says one co-parent. “Put your kids first and you will make better choices, and maybe spend less time and money at the therapy office with your children.”

If you feel the need to vent about your financial struggles with your ex, do so with a friend, family member, or therapist, rather than your child. Children often take divorce very personally, and can feel they are responsible for their parents separating, so dragging them into the middle of your financial drama is definitely not a good option. You can, however, help your children understand what is happening in a reasonable way. When children have a basic understanding of the situation happening around them, they are more able to handle their own expectations.

Being a co-parent means being able to constantly change, evolve, and compromise. If both you and your spouse are willing to set aside your differences, and put all of your resources towards your children, you will likely develop a successful co-parenting relationship. Money is never an easy thing to discuss, and as you and your ex set out on different life paths, your financial futures will likely change as well. Add children into the mix, and you have a complicated situation that requires a lot of adapting.

If you believe you and your spouse are headed towards divorce, you need a qualified Naperville divorce attorney on your side. The skilled team at Pesce Law Group, P.C., is available to assist you with anything divorce related. Call 630-352-2240 to schedule a consultation with our team today.



Source:

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/07/23/how-to-split-parenting-expenses-with-your-ex

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